Egyptian singer Amal Maher. Courtesy Younis Hamiddine / Mawazine
Egyptian singer Amal Maher. Courtesy Younis Hamiddine / Mawazine

Mawazine sessions: Egyptian pop singer Amal Maher is a modern classic



Amal Maher says she wants to act her age. It’s a rather risky move, as the 30-year-old Egyptian has built her glittering ­career by evoking the classic sounds of the past.

Discovered as a promising talent at the tender age of 15, ­Maher enrolled in a music conservatory, and before long she was performing regularly at the famed Cairo Opera House.

Since then, she has released three albums of what can best be described as sophisticated pop, blending modern music sensibilities with classic influences of legendary Arabic singers such Umm Kulthum and Fairuz. It’s the kind of music to soundtrack a blissful night drive or a dinner party.

Maher's fourth album, Welad El Naharda, marks a ­turning point in her career. Released this year, it is her most pop-friendly offering to date, featuring elements of EDM and super-polished balladry.

“I don’t look at it as a sudden change,” she says before ­performing at the Mawazine Festival in Morocco. “I think it’s something more gradual.

“I do feel like I have grown in all aspects, from the personal to the artistic. I think I now know how to fully engage with the audience, whether they are older or younger. The development didn’t come from specific moments, but came naturally with experience.”

This growing confidence is best displayed in Welad El Naharda's lead single, Seket El Salama. As well as the modern musical touches, with strings replaced by synths and a dash of auto-tuned club-friendly vocals, the song made waves for its accompanying slick video, which was more preoccupied with dance performance than a standard narrative.

Maher points to the 5 million YouTube views since its May release as the perfect response to her critics. “There were people who were unsure about the whole direction I was taking,” she says. “The song has a different kind of video clip, in that it really wasn’t storyboarded. It wasn’t your usual kind where the focus is on the lyrics. It is just more moody – and the fact people are talking about it is a sign it was the right decision.”

Maher says her new style remains in line with her career aim of being an influential singer, which not only extends to her music, but also how she presents herself to her fans. The more youthful outlook, she says, makes it easier for her fan base to connect with her.

“I want to represent my generation,” she says. “As a youngster, I was always influenced by singers and they were role models, in the way I behaved and my ­appearance. I am aware of that now, as a singer in my own right.

“I didn’t want to give any mixed messages to my fans, in that I am so different from my video clips or on Instagram. I want it to be ‘what you see is what you get’.”

That said, Maher hasn’t ditched her vintage musical tastes ­completely. She says that she has already started working on a new album dedicated to the Gulf-pop style. This was inspired by her ­encounter with veteran Saudi ­Arabian singer Mohammed Abdo at a Cairo show in February.

“There are no amount of words to really describe how influential a singer like Mohammed Abdo is when it comes to what he did with his career,” she says.

“He is really a kind and generous man and gave me valuable advice about performing. He ­encouraged me to perform with him some songs in the Khaleeji style and I really sensed a great encouragement from the crowd. It was then that I decided to start working on this new project.”

Another old-school aspect to Maher is her slow and steady growth to stardom. She credits the time dedicated to music ­training in the conservatory for her natural development. It’s a vital factor, she admits, rarely ­afforded to television talent-show winners.

“There is this feeling that all the voices that come out from these shows are the same or generic, but I want to stress that there are also some great voices in there,” she says.

“The challenge they face is that unless you win these shows, they are not encouraged or supported after. Once the shows are done, if you are not a winner then people move on and you are essentially left to yourself.”

Despite her focus on the present, Maher says she returns to classics for a daily dose of comfort.

“I always sleep with an old movie from [television channel] Rotana Classic or to the music of Fairouz,” she says.

“I can’t really explain it, but when it comes to unwinding, these things work for me every time.”

• Next on the Mawazine Sessions, Turkish-Macedonian nasheed singer Mesut Kurtis, talks about his latest album, Tabassam.

sasaeed@thenational.ae

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SAUDI ARABIA RESULTS

Main card
Middleweight:

Robert Whittaker defeated Ikram Aliskerov via knockout (Round 1)
Heavyweight:
Alexander Volkov def Sergei Pavlovich via unanimous decision
Middleweight:
Kelvin Gastelum def Daniel Rodriguez via unanimous decision
Middleweight:
Shara Magomedov def Antonio Trocoli via knockout (Round 3)
Light heavyweight:
Volkan Oezdemir def Johnny Walker via knockout (Round 1)
Preliminary Card
Lightweight:

Nasrat Haqparast def Jared Gordon via split decision
Featherweight:
Felipe Lima def Muhammad Naimov via submission (Round 3)
Welterweight:
Rinat Fakhretdinov defeats Nicolas Dalby via split decision
Bantamweight:
Muin Gafurov def Kang Kyung-ho via unanimous decision
Light heavyweight:
Magomed Gadzhiyasulov def Brendson Ribeiro via majority decision
Bantamweight:
Chang Ho Lee def Xiao Long via split decision

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: OneOrder
Started: March 2022
Founders: Tamer Amer and Karim Maurice
Based: Cairo
Number of staff: 82
Investment stage: Series A

Stree

Producer: Maddock Films, Jio Movies
Director: Amar Kaushik
Cast: Rajkummar Rao, Shraddha Kapoor, Pankaj Tripathi, Aparshakti Khurana, Abhishek Banerjee
Rating: 3.5

The specs

Engine: Twin electric motors and 105kWh battery pack
Power: 619hp
Torque: 1,015Nm
Transmission: Single-speed auto
Touring range: Up to 561km
On sale: Q3 or Q4 2022
Price: From Dh635,000

SECRET INVASION

Director: Ali Selim
Stars: Samuel L Jackson, Olivia Coleman, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Emilia Clarke
Rating: 3/5

The burning issue

The internal combustion engine is facing a watershed moment – major manufacturer Volvo is to stop producing petroleum-powered vehicles by 2021 and countries in Europe, including the UK, have vowed to ban their sale before 2040. The National takes a look at the story of one of the most successful technologies of the last 100 years and how it has impacted life in the UAE.

Part three: an affection for classic cars lives on

Read part two: how climate change drove the race for an alternative 

Read part one: how cars came to the UAE

The Bloomberg Billionaire Index in full

1 Jeff Bezos $140 billion
2 Bill Gates $98.3 billion
3 Bernard Arnault $83.1 billion
4 Warren Buffett $83 billion
5 Amancio Ortega $67.9 billion
6 Mark Zuckerberg $67.3 billion
7 Larry Page $56.8 billion
8 Larry Ellison $56.1 billion
9 Sergey Brin $55.2 billion
10 Carlos Slim $55.2 billion

Four scenarios for Ukraine war

1. Protracted but less intense war (60% likelihood)

2. Negotiated end to the conflict (30%)

3. Russia seizes more territory (20%)

4. Ukraine pushes Russia back (10%)

Forecast by Economist Intelligence Unit

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Watch live

The National will broadcast live from the IMF on Friday October 13 at 7pm UAE time (3pm GMT) as our Editor-in-Chief Mina Al-Oraibi moderates a panel on how technology can help growth in MENA.

You can find out more here

The specs

Engine: 1.8-litre 4-cyl turbo
Power: 190hp at 5,200rpm
Torque: 320Nm from 1,800-5,000rpm
Transmission: Seven-speed dual-clutch auto
Fuel consumption: 6.7L/100km
Price: From Dh111,195
On sale: Now

RedCrow Intelligence Company Profile

Started: 2016

Founders: Hussein Nasser Eddin, Laila Akel, Tayeb Akel 

Based: Ramallah, Palestine

Sector: Technology, Security

# of staff: 13

Investment: $745,000

Investors: Palestine’s Ibtikar Fund, Abu Dhabi’s Gothams and angel investors

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat 

How being social media savvy can improve your well being

Next time when procastinating online remember that you can save thousands on paying for a personal trainer and a gym membership simply by watching YouTube videos and keeping up with the latest health tips and trends.

As social media apps are becoming more and more consumed by health experts and nutritionists who are using it to awareness and encourage patients to engage in physical activity.

Elizabeth Watson, a personal trainer from Stay Fit gym in Abu Dhabi suggests that “individuals can use social media as a means of keeping fit, there are a lot of great exercises you can do and train from experts at home just by watching videos on YouTube”.

Norlyn Torrena, a clinical nutritionist from Burjeel Hospital advises her clients to be more technologically active “most of my clients are so engaged with their phones that I advise them to download applications that offer health related services”.

Torrena said that “most people believe that dieting and keeping fit is boring”.

However, by using social media apps keeping fit means that people are “modern and are kept up to date with the latest heath tips and trends”.

“It can be a guide to a healthy lifestyle and exercise if used in the correct way, so I really encourage my clients to download health applications” said Mrs Torrena.

People can also connect with each other and exchange “tips and notes, it’s extremely healthy and fun”.

Women’s T20 World Cup Qualifier

UAE fixtures

25 April – Ireland v UAE*
27 April – UAE v Zimbabwe**
29 April – Netherlands v UAE*
3 May – UAE v Vanuatu*
5 May – Semi-finals
7 May – Final
UAE squad: Esha Oza (captain), Al Maseera Jahangir, Avanee Patel, Heena Hotchandani, Indhuja Nandakumar, Kavisha Kumari, Khushi Sharma, Lavanya Keny, Mehak Thakur, Rinitha Rajith, Samaira Dharnidharka, Siya Gokhale, Suraksha Kotte, Theertha Satish, Vaishnave Mahesh.

*Zayed Cricket Stadium

**Tolerance Oval

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Results

6.30pm Madjani Stakes Rated Conditions (PA) I Dh160,000 1,900m I Winner: Mawahib, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Eric Lemartinel (trainer)

7.05pm Maiden Dh150,000 1,400m I Winner One Season, Antonio Fresu, Satish Seemar

7.40pm: Maiden Dh150,000 2,000m I Winner Street Of Dreams, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson

8.15pm Dubai Creek Listed Dh250,000 1,600m I Winner Heavy Metal, Royston Ffrench, Salem bin Ghadayer

8.50pm The Entisar Listed Dh250,000 2,000m I Winner Etijaah, Dane O’Neill, Doug Watson

9.25pm The Garhoud Listed Dh250,000 1,200m Winner Muarrab, Dane O’Neill, Ali Rashid Al Raihe

10pm Handicap Dh160,000 1,600m Winner Sea Skimmer, Patrick Cosgrave, Helal Al Alawi

'Will of the People'

Artist: Muse
Label: Warner
Rating: 2.5/5

Name: Colm McLoughlin

Country: Galway, Ireland

Job: Executive vice chairman and chief executive of Dubai Duty Free

Favourite golf course: Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club

Favourite part of Dubai: Palm Jumeirah

 

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

The specs: Fenyr SuperSport

Price, base: Dh5.1 million

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 800hp @ 7,100pm

Torque: 980Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 13.5L / 100km

Cinco in numbers

Dh3.7 million

The estimated cost of Victoria Swarovski’s gem-encrusted Michael Cinco wedding gown

46

The number, in kilograms, that Swarovski’s wedding gown weighed.

1,000

The hours it took to create Cinco’s vermillion petal gown, as seen in his atelier [note, is the one he’s playing with in the corner of a room]

50

How many looks Cinco has created in a new collection to celebrate Ballet Philippines’ 50th birthday

3,000

The hours needed to create the butterfly gown worn by Aishwarya Rai to the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

1.1 million

The number of followers that Michael Cinco’s Instagram account has garnered.